Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1861 Dame Nellie Melba (born Helen Porter Mitchell; d February 23, 1931), Australian opera soprano who 'played before the crowned heads of Europe'.

Melba's professional debut was in Verdi's Rigoletto at the Theatre Royale de la Monnaie, Brussels, on October 13, 1886. On May 24, 1888 she made her first appearance at Britain's famed Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, but was not particularly successful and returned to Brussels.

Her acclaimed June 5, 1889 return to Covent Garden in Romeo and Juliet opposite Jean deReszke sealed her position and she remained Covent Garden's prima donna through to the 1920s. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York in Lucia di Lammermoor (December 4, 1893). In early 1902 Melba first sang with Caruso, at Monte Carlo. On February 13, 1904, she appeared in the world premiere of Helene by Camille Saint-Saens at Monte Carlo. In 1920 she appeared on a pioneering radio broadcast from Guglielmo Marconi's factory in Chelmsford, England. On June 2, 1927 Nellie Melba received the Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, thenceforth being known as 'Dame' Nellie, but she was then, and now, one of that select band of notables (eg Coleridge, Paderewski, Lincoln, Dylan) generally known or identified by just one name.

She died due to an infection acquired during plastic surgery – a facelift.

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with many more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date (or your birthday).

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